AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan on 4GE, 5G enterprise use cases, and partners

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan and MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan explored  5G and its potential opportunity for robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences, public safety and beyond.

Image result for pic of john donovan at CES 2019

Evidently, John Donovan isn’t concerned about the criticism that his company has faced for updating some 4G-LTE phones to display the 5G E label, a move that competitors are calling misleading for customers.  Nor is he concerned that AT&T’s description of their so called mobile 5G deployed in 12 U.S. cities last month is: “standards based,” when it really is not.  A video stated:”AT&T is the first to deliver standards based mobile 5G.”  In fact, it is neither standards based or 5G as per ITU-R WP5D or 3GPP (which is NOT a standards organization).

“If I occupy beachfront real estate in my competitors’ heads, that makes me smile,” Donovan on Wednesday told CES attendees during a keynote in Las Vegas. HIs comments came one day after some customers discovered that their phones had changed from reading LTE to 5G E, which stands for 5G Evolution. The move, which caused some confusion, was meant to indicate that the phones were now accessing a network twice as fast as 4G LTE, Donovan said, and one that would pave the way for 5G.

Competitors slammed AT&T over the move. T-Mobile poked fun at the marketing ploy on Twitter. Verizon took out a full-ad in The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal and USA Today to tell customers that it wouldn’t make the same move. And Sprint’s CTO told Engadget that “AT&T is blatantly misleading consumers.”

The 5G Evolution network is currently available in hundreds of markets for certain phones. Donovan said it is a stepping stone to the fifth generation of wireless technology and is twice as fast as the 4G LTE network that most mobile phones connect to, though still not as fast as 5G will be.

Donovan wrote off the criticism as frustration from competitors over AT&T’s “5G” advancements. In the fall, the company announced that it would make a mobile 5G network and mobile 5G devices available to consumers by the end of the year. In December, its pre standard mobile 5G network went live in 12 cities. Even with AT&T’s 5G work, it could be years before most Americans connect to 5G on their mobile phones.  Donovan said, “the (5G) network wont be as broad geographically as to be a consumer benefit.”  Therefore AT&T will concentrate on industrial users such as enterprise campus and in building wireless networks.

While Donovan did note that “media will be most transformed” by 5G technology, he shared a number of different industrial use cases. The AT&T executive said that 5G could be used to update billboards in real time and make them personalized based on the interests of drivers. 5G will also be instrumental in making mixed-VR headsets like Magic Leap, which AT&T has invested in, usable in mobile environments.  He also referred to a new partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, but did not elaborate.  Rush Hospital in Chicago was another 5G partner Donovan noted.  “Those are front burners, rather than downloading a movie faster,” he said.

As AT&T prepares for 5G, Donovan said he  is rethinking the retail experience. “What’s the WOW experience in our store? The WOW stands for ‘walk out and watch,'” he said, explaining that he wants customers to know about the content coming from Warner Media, which AT&T recently acquired. “It’s providing a whole new set of opportunities for the media business.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 thoughts on “AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan on 4GE, 5G enterprise use cases, and partners

  1. AT&T promises nationwide 5G in early 2020 — using sub-6GHz spectrum

    AT&T revealed that it will “offer nationwide 5G coverage with our lower band spectrum,” specifically the sub-6GHz frequencies discussed in our interview with AT&T VP Gordon Mansfield yesterday.

    While the announcement isn’t entirely surprising given that AT&T began to distinguish between “5G” and “5G+” in December, noting that it planned to call high-speed millimeter wave service “5G+” and offer it only in select high-traffic areas, this is the first official confirmation that AT&T’s nationwide 5G network will rely upon aggregating lower-bandwidth radio signals, which spread more widely from larger towers.

    In the transition from 4G to 5G, AT&T says that it has brought two interim technologies into more markets than expected: 1Gbps LTE-LAA is now in parts of 55 cities, with its controversially named “5G Evolution” or “5G E” — actually just 4G LTE-Advanced — in over 400 markets, offering roughly 400Mbps speeds on select 4G devices. Towers with the 5G E hardware will be capable of flipping to actual 5G service in the near future, but until then will confuse 4G users into believing that they’re using 5G technologies.

    AT&T also said that it is expanding its agreement with AR purveyor Magic Leap to include business solutions, including manufacturing, retail, and health care applications. Magic Leap’s current-generation hardware has no cellular hardware, but the company is expected to offer a 5G version in the future, in partnership with AT&T.

  2. AT&T, Nokia team up on RAN controller software platform for O-RAN Alliance

    AT&T is working with Nokia to develop an open source software platform for the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) that aligns with the O-RAN Alliance.

    AT&T and Nokia are co-creating the RIC platform to further spur the development of open source software in the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) sector. The platform will feature a set of functions and interfaces that enable increased optimization through policy-driven, closed-loop automation.

    The RIC software will also create faster, more flexible service deployments and programmability within the RAN. The overarching intent of RIC is to help create a multivendor, open ecosystem of interoperable components for the various RAN elements and vendors.

    “We’re delighted to work with Nokia on co-creating an open source implementation of the RIC platform to accelerate innovations and interoperability in the RAN,” said Mazin Gilbert, vice president of advanced technology and systems at AT&T Labs, in a prepared statement. “We continue to look for opportunities to drive open platforms and open interfaces in the community.”

    The O-RAN Alliance, which is chaired by AT&T Labs’ Andre Fuetsch, was founded early last year by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo and Orange with Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Telstra joining later in 2018. Nokia is listed as a contributing member of the O-RAN Alliance.

    “Nokia is a strong proponent of RAN network openness and has been active in numerous open source communities, contributing code and defining open interface specifications,” said Mike Murphy, CTO for North America at Nokia, in the statement. “We are excited to be partnering with AT&T to co-create RIC software and share with the open-source community to foster further collaboration and innovation.”

  3. Defining AT&T’s Network Path in 2019 and Beyond

    “We delivered on one of the most ambitious goals in our industry by being the first in the U.S. with live commercial mobile 5G,” said Jeff McElfresh, president, AT&T Technology Operations. “2018 was a year of rapid R&D, testing and deployment as our people rolled out 5G within months of the final 3GPP standard being set—going from an 18 month cycle to same-year deployment. And now we’re going to begin making this 5G vision come to life further for businesses and consumers.”

    Data traffic on our mobile network has grown more than 470,000% since 2007 with video making up half of our mobile data traffic. By 2022, we estimate video could make up more than 75% of AT&T’s mobile traffic driven by growth in 4K video, autonomous cars, drones, VR/AR and mobile gaming. Combine this with the more than 242 petabytes of data currently crossing our total network on an average business day.

    In early 2020, we expect to have a nationwide mobile 5G footprint using our lower band spectrum (sub-6 GHz). We’ll also continue offering 5G+ coverage over millimeter wave spectrum.

    In addition, we exceeded our promise to bring LTE-LAA to two dozen markets, launching the technology in parts of 55 cities. With LTE-LAA, the network technologies have a peak theoretical wireless speed for capable devices of 1 gigabit per second.1

    We’ll grow our 5G+ network over millimeter wave spectrum and offer nationwide 5G coverage with our lower band spectrum (sub-6 Ghz). We plan to begin deploying that lower band spectrum in the second half of this year and plan to have nationwide coverage available in early 2020.

  4. As noted in the above article, AT&T made an agreement with Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health to create the “hospital of the future.” Rush, based in Chicago, encompasses multiple hospitals and healthcare providers across the city. It will utilise both AT&T’s 5G network and its multi-access edge computing (MEC) cloud-based edge IT service environment, the carrier said. This will allow the provider to manage cellular traffic over local and wide-area networks.

    “We strongly believe 5G is a game-changing technology that when fully implemented will help us support better hospital operations as well as provide the highest-quality patient and staff experience,” Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health SVP and CIO Dr Shafiq Rab said.

    “High-speed, low-latency 5G technology will help enable care to be delivered virtually anywhere at any time. The technology will enhance access to care, even from long distances, while also helping to decrease costs and improve efficiency.”

    Rab pointed to the use case of a doctor downloading an MRI scan within seconds while virtually tending to a patient.

    AT&T and Rush will additionally look into using mobile technologies and connectivity for therapy, hospital operations, and patient experience, with the research to take place throughout 2019.

    “Imagine a hospital where rooms are intelligently scheduled, patient care is enhanced with artificial intelligence, and augmented reality is used in training medical students,” AT&T said.

  5. It was supposed to be one of the dominant themes of the show, but 5G was at this week’s CES in name only. There were scant products that could even connect to the limited 5G networks out there. And while many people were discussing the promise and possibilities of the technology, there were only a few concrete examples.

    “At CES, 5G is mainly being used as a buzzword and proxy for ‘future of mobility,'” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Global Data.

    In short, it was like every other trade show discussion about 5G – all hype. And thanks to the carriers, 5G maybe even more confusing.

    “The US carriers are not helping themselves or their customers in their ‘I am first and I am better’ race,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “It is a sad state of affairs, to be honest.”

  6. AT&T and Magic Leap are expanding their partnership to include business solutions

    Six months after AT&T teamed up with Magic Leap, a cutting-edge AR headset startup, to become the sole US wireless carrier for the company’s headsets, the firms have announced the expansion of this partnership, according to a company statement.

    FORECAST: Global Enterprise VR Hardware and Software Revenue
    Business Insider Intelligence
    The two firms will now work together on business solutions, placing their initial focus on manufacturing, retail, and healthcare. More specifically, AT&T will provide connectivity for augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, and spatial computing business applications over its 5G network.

    What are some business solutions that could come out of this partnership?

    Manufacturers could use Magic Leap’s headsets to collaborate on computer-aided design, saving time and money. For instance, a team of auto engineers could walk through a 3D engine, test components, and iterate on the design, all without having to work with a physical engine.
    E-commerce companies may choose to enhance the shopping experience by enabling customers to try on clothes or see how furniture would fit in their apartment through AR. These capabilities would combine the convenience of ordering products online with the in-store feel of being able to try out products, which could prove attractive to consumers.
    In the healthcare field, Magic Leap headsets could be used for collaborative diagnostics, remote medical assessments, and training. For example, medical students could perform intricate procedures in a virtual setting before they’re expected to operate on a human patient.

  7. During a panel discussion at the event, Kassan was joined onstage by AT&T CEO John Donavan, who detailed the US operator’s efforts to transform 5G into a reality, as well as AT&T’s work to develop the first 5G-enabled hospital in Chicago.

    “This network, really simply stated, is not just faster and more efficient – which we’ve grown to appreciate – it’s a real-time network. So it’s a game-changer,” Donavan said.

    Another area of focus was the potential for 5G to transform the automotive sector, including by significantly reducing accidents through self-driving vehicles. According to research cited at the event, self-driving vehicles have the potential to eliminate 94% of car accidents caused by human error.

    During a panel session on the connected car with 5G, executives from BlackBerry Certicom, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, TomTom and Flex explored how 5G will transform future cars into a private data center, fueling innovation in areas including smart cities, autonomous vehicles, mobility and privacy protection.

    A separate session concentrated on the effects 5G and the IoT – including smart homes – will have on the retail sector, and how shopping will be affected by the emergence of the technology.

  8. An AT&T representative chairs ITU-R WP 5D, which is responsible for the IMT 2020 (official 5G) standard. Another AT&T rep chairs the WP 5D SWG on Radio Aspects within the Technology WG. Hence, AT&T has tremendous influence and impact on IMT 2020 yet it’s marketing communications department falsely claims the company has deployed “standards based” mobile 5G.

  9. AT&T is touting successful completion of a data transfer field test using spectrum in the sub-6 GHz range as a step closer to reaching its goal of providing 5G service across by US by the first half of 2020. The company thinks that a mixture of spectrum on all bands will offer the best balance of speed and coverage, the carrier’s Igal Elbaz wrote.


    1. Yigal Elbaz’s blog post states that AT&T used Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 5G modem, RF transceiver and RF Front-End (RFFE) solution. But that is only for the endpoint send/receive side. What was you use for a base station/cell transmission equipment?

    2. What sub-6 GHz frequency band did AT&T use for the Plano,TX 5G transmission test?

    3. Was AT&T’s “5G” test only used 3GPP Release 15 5G NR NSA for the data plane and that there was no control plane/signaling or mobile packet core? Or did AT&T use LTE signaling with EPC mobile packet core?

    4. As AT&T chairs ITU-R WP 5D committee (Stephen Blunt) and the Technology Aspects SWG Radio Aspects (Marc Grant) where IMT 2020 radio is being standardized. Therefore, your company knows all about IMT 2020 radio aspects and when it will be completed (very end of 2020 at the earliest!) AT&T also knows that 3GPP release 16 (to be completed in 1st half of 2020) will be the basis for 3GPP’s RIT/SRIT submission to ITU-R WP5D for IMT 2020. It will hopefully specify ultra low latency/ultra high reliability (very important 5G use case) as well as a 5G packet core and 5G signaling/control plane (vs using the LTE network as an anchor for 5G NR).

    Given all that, why does AT&T (especially John Donovan) say that “we have deployed standards based 5G…”???

    Note that 3GPP is not a standards body- they say that on their own website! To me that lie is much worse than all the brouha brouha about 5GE really being LTE Advanced Pro.

    Bottom line: Why doesn’t AT&T publicly recognize IMT 2020 as the real 5G and everything deployed prior to that is “pre-standard 5G”???

    Also note that the non radio aspects of 5G, like virtual RAN and network slicing, are being worked by ITU-T (in a very broad generic way) and many different consortium/alliances/forums which will likely produce competing and overlapping functional specifications.

  10. May 9, 2020 Update: Communications Service Providers (CSPs) losing out on 5G enterprise business:

    “Only one in five early enterprise 5G deals are CSP-led, proving that the way CSPs want to sell is at odds with the way in which businesses want to buy,” said Angus Ward, CEO of BearingPoint//Beyond. “What’s deeply concerning is that some of these early deals, such as the ones we see in automotive, cut out CSPs entirely – even connectivity is being provided by other suppliers.

    “Businesses want to buy complete solutions that fit their needs and help them solve business problems, rather than individual technology assets. This is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity that CSPs need to address fast and requires CSPs to collaborate with enterprises and SMBs to better understand their reality.”

    “CSPs will only realize value from 5G if they can identify, partner, codevelop, implement, and run a proposition with application-specific and industry-specific specialists,” said Evan Kirchheimer, Research VP, Service Provider & Communications at Omdia. “CSPs that can orchestrate such a complex web of relationships will be capable of capturing a greater share of the market and will not be relegated to being one of many connectivity providers competing solely on price.”

    That’s the thing they seem to be especially rubbish at. Even now operators are selling on features and benefits rather than solutions, even though the rest of the world got that memo a decade or two ago. The report urges them to focus on applications and vertical-specific solutions rather than just banging on about how great 5G is.

    According to Omdia almost 80% of early enterprise 5G deals involve the manufacturing, transport, utilities and energy/mining sectors, so that seems to be where the smart money is. Furthermore the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be making industry keener than ever to digitise and automate, presumably to minimise disruption when none of their employees are allowed to leave the house. As ever a culture change at CSPs is required, which they’ve shown little historical inclination towards.

Comments are closed.